Let’s begin moving up the rankings

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Magnolia State is among the top states for being last. Don’t laugh Louisiana residents; you guys usually aren’t much better.

Being at the bottom of national lists has become so commonplace that residents sometimes joke about “beating out” Louisiana (or Alabama) by being 49th rather than 50th in state rankings.

Some people call that gallows humor — laughing at the grim, hopeless reality of a situation.

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We call it institutional apathy.

And it’s a pretty insidious disease in our state these days.

Each time such a list comes out, Mississippians rarely hope for much more than the simple desire not to be dead last.

Some Mississippians seems resolved to the fact that collectively our state is sub-par and that’s the way it’s going to be.

We think that’s hogwash.

But it’s only hogwash if we can prove the world wrong by rejecting the hype and putting our heads together on how to improve.

When the national economy begins to recover Mississippi can springboard ahead of other states that have been economically knocked down further. But we cannot sit idly by and wait. We need to be moving now.

Rather than sitting back and waiting for the next stimulus check to roll in to cover our state’s budget shortfalls, Mississippi needs to be trimming out as many non-core expenses as is possible and then redoubling spending in areas like education and workforce development — and marketing the state to more businesses.

If it doesn’t help educate, protect or feed the poorest among us, the program should be considered for elimination.

Until we get our spending priorities “righted” and start putting the first things first, we’ll continue to be last on all the things that matter most.